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De Laval / Willis Papers

Identity Statement

Reference Code: P21/
Title: De Laval / Willis Papers
Dates: copies made c. 2000-2005 of items dating from 1689-1931
Extent: 1 Box (14 items)

Content & Structure

The De Lavals were among the many Huguenot families who were deprived of their religious and civil liberties and subjected to intense religious persecution in France during the reign on Louis XIV. The Vicomte Henri Robert d'Ully de Laval was imprisoned at Laon in 1688 and his estates were declared forfeit. He was able to escape in September 1689, and eventually sought refuge in Ireland. He moved to Portarlington in 1695, where his rank and considerable wealth allowed him to establish a leading position in the community.

In 1808, the Vicomte's great-granddaughter Deborah Charlotte Newcombe married Thomas Gilbert Willis, son of Thomas Willis, the Master of Portarlington's most famous French school. Thomas Gilbert, who had taken Holy Orders in the Anglican community, was appointed Rector of Kilmurry Church, Limerick. His son, also Thomas, was appointed Curate to the same church in 1832, Prebendary to St Mary's Cathedral, and Master of the Diocesan School which he ran from his house in Thomas Street. He died in 1837 and was buried outside the west door of the Cathedral. Following his death, his widow opened a Day and Boarding School for Young Ladies in No. 5 Pery Square, while his son William continued to run the private school in Thomas Street.

The materials consist of seals, reproductions of portraits and transcripts of written material relating to the De Laval and Willis families, providing in snapshot detail the fate of a high-ranking Huguenot family forced into exile, their efforts to create a new life in a foreign country, and the lives of their descendants.

Conditions of Access & Use

Access: Available by appointment
Finding Aid: Descriptive List (click on link below)

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